2011 Finalists: Graphic Novels

Elementary/Middle Grade

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
by Barry Deutsch
Nominated by: Els Kushner

Mirka would much rather spend her time slaying dragons than taking knitting lessons from her stepmother. But there seems to be a lack of dragons in Hereville, the Orthodox Jewish community where Mirka lives. That won’t stop Mirka from outwitting a giant pig, making deals with witches, or besting a giant troll to win her dragon-slaying sword. With a fresh storyline, great artwork, a cast of strong characters, and a peek inside a unique culture, Hereville is a wonderful multi-layered story that will appeal to both girl and boy readers.

Alyssa Feller

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists
by Various Authors
First Second Books
Nominated by: Susan Kusel

An incredible assortment of artists contributed drawings to this gorgeous collection of Mother Goose rhymes in which each poem is presented as a comic strip. It’s a genius concept, and the execution is fairly breathtaking. In the hands of some of the finest illustrators in the business—people like Gene Luen Yang, Raina Telgemeier, Ben Hatke, Dave Roman, David Macauley, Marc Rosenthal, Roz Chast, and even living legend Jules Feiffer—the familiar rhymes take on a dynamic new life. The result is a book with tremendous appeal. Young readers—many of whom may be encountering Mother Goose for the first time—are sure to enjoy comparing the vastly different art styles and may find themselves inspired to try their own hand at sequential art.

Melissa Wiley

by Dan Santat
Arthur A Levine
Nominated by: Elijah Z

In Santat’s delightful Sidekicks, aging Captain Amazing finds himself not quite as amazing as he ought to be. His loyal pets wish he’d stay home and pay them some attention, but he’s not quite ready for retirement yet, so it’s up to the pets to make themselves useful in whatever way they can. The characters are well-drawn, goodhearted and charming, and Sidekicks has the best ever literary use of a peanut allergy, hands down.

by Brian Selznick
Nominated by: Hallie Tibbetts

Ben has recently lost his mother and his hearing. Decades earlier, it seems that Rose never had either. Selznick, best known for Caldecott winner “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” reveals Ben and Rose’s stories side by side. Both dramas seem narrated and illustrated despite the fact that we only read about Ben and only see pictures from Rose’s story. There was no question about whether this nominee would make the shortlist — each panelist was smitten by Selznick’s detailed artwork and straightforward prose. The historical accuracy in the 1927 and 1977 settings of Wonderstruck lays a strong foundation of believability for the book. Good storytelling will captivate readers of all ages and present their minds with a thought-provoking (and ultimately hopeful) adventure.

Alysa Stewart

Zita the Spacegirl
by Ben Hatke
First Second Books
Nominated by: Isaac Z

Zita finds a mysterious button in the woods and accidentally zaps her
friend Joseph and herself into another world. Joseph is quickly kidnapped because the locals mistakenly believe he can save their planet, which is about to be destroyed by an asteroid. Zita sets out on a quest to save him, collecting misfit friends along the way. The story has wonderful messages of perseverance and friendship, but that takes a backseat to the gorgeous illustrations. Ben Hatke has a blast creating the inhabitants of this distant planet, going so far as to create guidebook entries about some of them. Zita the Spacegirl will appeal to a variety of readers: lovers of fantasy, adventure, and graphic novels will all be clamoring to borrow it.

Megan Kelly

Young Adult

Anya’s Ghost
by Vera Brosgol
First Second Books
Nominated by: Robin

When social outcast Anya falls down a well, she meets the ghost of a girl
named Emily Reilly who was murdered in 1918. After recovering from her fear, Anya befriends Emily, who helps her escape, gives her answers on tests, and encourages her to talk to her crush. As in most ghost stories, all is not what it seems, and Anya learns that Emily can be truly scary after all. Vera Brosgol’s story features engrossing illustrations and a suspenseful plot that will have readers staying up late to finish the book.

Megan Kelly

Bad Island
by Doug Tennapel
Nominated by: Aaron Zenz

When Reese gets roped into going on a family vacation with his sister, Janie, and a pet snake named Pickles he hardly expects to get shipwrecked in a freak storm on a mysterious island. Of course, that’s exactly what happens. What’s more, the island is populated with all sorts of creatures who are somewhat less than welcoming to their newest neighbors. Chased by a lizard-headed man and legions of tiny demon-things with horns, Reese and Co. must learn to overcome their dissent and work together. Bad
Island is more than an adventure story. It’s a story about the redeeming power of a family.

Christina Vandergriend

by Jim Ottaviani
First Second Books
Nominated by: E. Kristin Anderson

Richard Feynman was a brilliant scientist who made great strides in our understanding of quantum physics, solved the problem of the O-ring failure in the Challenger space shuttle disaster, and through his lectures on physics, made a difficult field more accessible to ordinary humans. Jim Ottaviani does a wonderful job making Feynman’s life story accessible and compelling for readers, using clear, well-paced images, and keeping a nice balance between history and scientific accomplishments and Feynman’s rich and quirky life story.

Liz Jones

Level Up
by Gene Luen Yang
First Second Books
Nominated by: Bigfoot

College-age Dennis Ouyang still can’t measure up to paternal expectations– even though his father has been dead for several years. His parents want him to go to med school, but he only loves video games. He fails out of college as a result of his obsession. Before the consequences can really hit the fan, he’s rescued! Angels from a drawing his father made for him as a child reappear in his apartment to assist him in meeting those expectations, but as it turns out, they might not  be expectations for Dennis’s life, after all. Gene Luen Yang skillfully meshes tales of college video slackerdom, friendship, and academic aspirations to gracefully demonstrates how we can honor our parents’ hopes and dreams for us, while still honoring our own.

Kyle Kimmal

Page by Paige
by Laura Lee Gulledge
Nominated by: Megan Alabaugh

Paige Turner is a shy girl, so when her parents uproot her life and move to
Brooklyn, she feels utterly alone. She buys herself a sketchbook. What follows is part diary, part sketchbook, and entirely wonderful as Paige progresses from shy, secretive, and angsty to brave, funny, and creative. Based on Laura Lee Gulledge’s own adolescence, the reader is taken on a very real journey as Paige learns to challenge
herself to do the things that scare her most and to trust both herself and the people around her.

Christina Vandergriend